Vishal Dikshit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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This is your third ODI tour of India. What are the main changes you make when you've to bowl on smaller grounds and more spin-friendly pitches?
I suppose experience has definitely helped me. Coming into the IPL and some tough international series, some successful ones and some not-so-successful ones, it gives you a bit of hindsight into what's ahead. So you know with each individual that you're up against how they're probably going to play you which helps. It's one of those places to tour where I don't think you can really be too hard on yourself. Sometimes you get really batsman-friendly conditions, the grounds are smaller. So the way I've bowled helps because it's quite a simple game plan. Obviously, I try to attack the stumps as much as possible, to try and sum up the conditions is really important. I think the last series where we had some success, the wickets were a little bit drier because it was really hot, there was a bit of spin so that helps. But I also think from the team point of view we had really good game plans and that helped with me as well. We were defending quite big scores. Basically preparations are really important here, I've learnt that too. And I keep saying India is one of the toughest places to tour. I think keep it simple, don't be too hard on yourself. Preparation against these guys is really important. Virat [Kohli] is a really intense player, so body language is really important.
You've bowled a lot of these batsmen in the IPL. Do you keep specific plans for them or does it depend more on situations?
It will definitely depend on the situations. The conditions here, you see a lot of dew at night time so a couple of preparations with the wet ball is really important. And obviously you prepare differently for different guys. So, someone like Virat, you know he's sweating on bad bowling, he's got his strengths. And then you have guys like Rohit [Sharma], who obviously is a six-hitter, he loves hitting boundaries. You might bowl some good balls to him and he might defend them but you know that he's going to come hard at you, early or at the back-end of your over. So it's definitely individualised preparation.
Do you feel the need to bowl more variations on pitches in India?
I think very minor variations; good defensive bowling is important here. I don't think over-attacking as a legspinner is really beneficial sometimes particularly on smaller grounds. I think your best ball and your best defense as a bowler is really important.
You use the crease too, a fair bit, like we see in the BBL, especially while bowling the wrong'uns. Does that plan work as well against good players of spin in India?
I think so. Basically the way that I see the Indians play is that they love predictability. If they can line you up as a bowler, that's when they hit you out of the park. I guess even if it's a slight tinker of the crease or slight variations with the ball - with the pace or angles. If they can't line you up, it's a win but if you're predictable, that's when they take you down.
Like when you played against the Melbourne Renegades recently, you dismissed Aaron Finch and Beau Webster with deliveries from wide of the crease. Were those the wrong'uns or more like straighter ones?
They were straight ones. I think the one you're talking about is probably the change of angle at the crease more than anything. Particularly the way I bowl, attacking the stumps a lot and the way I'm trying to get that angle from wide of the crease back in towards the stumps is a slight variation but I think it's a good one, it's quite a tough ball to hit.
You're the lead spinner in the ODI squad now. Do your tactics change when you're bowling with or without Ashton Agar in the XI?
No, I don't think so. I think it depends on the situation and obviously, naturally as a legspinner you've to be a more attacking option than the fingerspinner. It's important to work well together and communicate. So it might, for example, be if the quicks don't get the job done early, it might be me coming on early to try and get a wicket. But it's all on the situation, depending on how the powerplay goes, I don't think the mindset changes too much.
Glenn Maxwell said you're his go to bowler for the Melbourne Stars. Is it mainly your consistency that has helped your wicket-taking ability and made you such an important bowler for them?
Yeah, particularly in T20 cricket. I think in one-day cricket people still haven't worked out wristspin. The game has changed a lot with only four players out, it's a big difference to T20 cricket, I find having that one less player outside the circle. But I think I've always been touted as quite a defensive legspinner because I'm obviously not a big spinner of the ball but my numbers in T20 cricket in particular are, I would suggest that, by building pressure. That's when the wickets come, I think I've got a strike rate that's similar to someone like an Imran Tahir. He's touted as a big wicket-taker, so I pride myself of team bowling not going searching for wickets. I think the way that I bowl, building pressure is really important.
Why do you think batsmen haven't figured out wristspinners in one-dayers?
No, I think batsman have. I think more for captaincy, and even as a bowler it's been difficult. I know it's been around for a long time, the four outside the circle, but batsmen these days have also worked out a way to target that one zone where you don't have that protection so that makes it a little more difficult.
You go back to Essex later this year. How does playing in such different conditions and formats shape your thinking overall as a bowler?
I think age and experience help a lot. For example, turning up for an international game at the start of your career was quite nerve-wracking and then the more you play, the more experience you have, it becomes less nerve wracking. Playing for Essex, and playing almost a 150 T20s now, it gives you the experience of knowing what might be coming. My theory is that in T20 cricket it only takes one good over to change your day. I had this conversation with Sandeep [Lamichhane] actually in Melbourne and we spoke about how it doesn't matter if your first over goes for 12 because you can make it up. You can change the game even if it's a defensive over that goes for six when your team is under pressure.
Another wristspinner people talk about is Rashid Khan. Do you think a lot of batsmen can't pick him out of the hand?
It's definitely because people can't pick him out of the hand. I've never faced him but would like to, not in a game, I'd like to face him in the nets. If I'm batting against him in a game it means we're not doing too well (laughs). I had a bowl with him last year. After a Big Bash game I tapped him on the shoulder and asked if I could have a bowl with him. So if you watch his footage he's not a wristspinner, he's actually a fingerspinner. So as a traditional wristspinner you have a loose wrist and you use your wrist to spin the ball. He actually has a locked wrist and by doing that he just changes the angle of that and then spins it with his fingers. So he actually locks it [his wrist] rather than like a traditional legspinner.
I remember growing up I used to buy a ball, a plastic one - Shane Warne Spin King or something like that - and it used to have instructions that came with it, and it used to have different spots on the ball where you had to put your fingers for certain deliveries. So I got Rashid to do the same, I was like, "can you just draw marks for a wrong'un and then draw marks for your legspinner". I think you have to grow up bowling like that, it's not something that you can just do over a short amount of time. It's freaky. It was good to have a bowl with him because I had always been like, "unbelievable, I want to bowl like him." But then after bowling with him, I was like, "there's no absolutely no way in the world that I'll ever get to bowl like that". So it's good to know that now.
How does a fingerspinner like him bowl a wrong'un then?
If you think about it, or even if you watch some footage, you'll notice that it's as simple as knowing that he locks his wrist. So traditionally as a legspinner, for your wrong'un the back of your wrist is facing the batsman, and for a legbreak the back of your wrist is facing gully. But his doesn't change, it pretty much faces the batsman the whole time. Depending on which way he wants to spin the ball, he just uses his fingers. He holds onto the ball really loosely, right until the end. The traditional wristspinner will hold the ball quite deep in the end.